Follow-up on August’s Council Meeting “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?”
- I am potty training my 3-year-old this week, so it was priority #1. It made me think after our lesson last Sunday how sometimes we have big picture priorities, like God is first and our families are important, but then sometimes we have those day to day priorities that change over time, but sometimes we can get caught up in those day to day priorities and forget the big picture ones. It’s really easy to have that happen. The big picture priorities can help us manage the day to day priorities. It just gave me a different perspective on our discussion last week. We have the big picture one’s kind of hanging over us, but in the back of our mind we’re remembering to do these things but have to live our life in the day to day also and those priorities change all the time. But the bigger ones mostly stay the same in the midst of all the smaller ones.
- I enjoyed, not that I did it every day, or as good as I could have, but I enjoyed the challenge to specifically ask what Heavenly Father wanted me to do today. The days that I did do that I was able to accomplish more of my little to-do lists that I wanted to in an easier way. Sometimes when you’re thinking about the big things the little things can take care of themselves.
- I think it’s important to write things down. Last night I realized at 10pm that we forgot to come and clean the church yesterday morning! My priorities were with my family expecting them to come [into town] and I didn’t even write it down and I remembered two weeks ago, but it didn’t get written down, so even though it was a high priority, it didn’t get done.
As I have pondered and prepared this lesson, I have really felt inadequate and the subject is quite daunting, so I hope there will be lots of people who want to share because it’s a good subject. Elder Echo Hawk begins his talk by sharing the story of Christ’s resurrection,
““Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
“And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
“And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
“And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
“He is not here, but is risen.””
As I watched him give this talk, he shared a very personal experience he and his family had and I could just see the emotions welling up in him. He shared a really hard story and today as we discuss this talk, I hope that you will be willing to share your testimonies and the things that have happened in your lives so that we can learn from each other. If you feel prompted to share with us, I would love that, but I know that it can be hard to share. I hope we know this is a safe place.
I’m going to begin with this question and you can ponder it to yourself, what it is that causes us to harbor anger or resentment towards others?
- When you get hurt, or someone causes hurt to a loved one.
- I heard once that anger is a secondary emotion, so if we’re feeling angry, then are all kind of emotions and the anger is what is manifesting. We could be sad or disappointed or hurt. Since I heard that whenever I feel angry, I don’t do this every time, but I try really hard to think about why am I feeling anger? What else is going on here that I’m missing that I’m going straight to the anger?
- A lot of times we harbor anger because someone else may be pointing out insecurities that we may have about ourselves.
- Sometimes we think wrongly that anger and unforgiveness will protect us somehow.
As I have thought about this over the last couple of weeks, I’ve thought about some reason why I felt angry in the past. Anger is a really visceral emotion. If you think about a time when you were angry it kind of hits you in the pit of your stomach, at least it does to me. As this sister said, it being a secondary emotion, I think of times when I was maybe disappointed. My expectations were not met by another individual. That would have made me angry. I also think that when I am sorrowful or sad, anger can mask that. Maybe you’re mourning for something that could’ve, should’ve been and it makes you angry. I think that coupled with miscommunication, we have the perfect storm for anger and resentment.
Elder Echo Hawk said that he wanted to focus on forgiveness and he wanted to focus on a few things that we need to do to have eternal life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, he said, “Through the miracle of the sacred Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can also receive the gift of forgiveness of our sins and misdeeds, if we accept the opportunity and responsibility of repentance.” So, repentance is both an opportunity and a responsibility.
He continued, “And by receiving necessary ordinances, keeping covenants, and obeying commandments, we can gain eternal life and exaltation.
Today, I want to focus on forgiveness, an essential and precious gift offered to us from our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
On a December night in 1982, my wife, Terry, and I were awakened by a phone call to our home in Pocatello, Idaho. As I answered the phone, I heard only sobbing. Finally, my sister’s struggling voice said, “Tommy is dead.”
A 20-year-old drunk driver, speeding at more than 85 miles (135 km) per hour, recklessly ran a stoplight in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. He crashed violently into the car driven by my youngest brother, Tommy, instantly killing him and his wife, Joan. They were returning home to a young daughter after a Christmas party.
My wife and I immediately flew to Denver and made our way to the mortuary. We gathered with my parents and siblings and grieved the loss of our beloved Tommy and Joan. We had lost them to a senseless criminal act. Our hearts were broken, and anger toward the young offender began to well up inside me.
Tommy had served as a lawyer in the United States Department of Justice and was on a course to be a strong advocate for protection of Native American lands and natural resources for years to come.
After some time had passed, a court sentencing hearing was held for the young man found responsible for vehicular manslaughter. In their ongoing grief and sorrow, my parents and oldest sister, Katy, attended the hearing. The drunk driver’s parents were also there, and after the hearing concluded, they sat on a bench and wept. My parents and sister were sitting nearby as they sought to gain control of their own emotions. After a moment, my parents and sister stood up and walked to the driver’s parents and offered them words of comfort and forgiveness. The men shook hands; the women held hands; there was deep sorrow and tears for all and a recognition that both families had suffered immensely. Mom, Dad, and Katy led the way with their quiet strength and courage and showed our family what forgiveness looks like.
That outreach of forgiveness in those moments caused my own heart to soften and opened a pathway to healing.”
When was a time in your life when you were able to feel a “pathway to healing?”
- I had a time when I had some anger built up and some thought processes that wasn’t helpful, but I didn’t recognize it because I thought I was justified. I thought that I was in the right and that the situation that perpetually caused these emotions, I thought the people involved should know better. That they were not doing the right thing. I was totally justifying my feelings and it wasn’t until I was rebuked and the Lord showed me through the story of the Pharisees and how they treated the adulterous woman and Jesus said, ‘he who has no sin cast the first stone.’ I realized at this pivotal moment that I was like the Pharisees. I was casting those stones, whether I was right or wrong didn’t matter because the Lord is the one that will pass judgment, not me. It wasn’t my responsibility and I realized people can’t change if I’m constantly throwing stones at them. If I’m constantly expecting them to be more, and I don’t even know the whole situation, but if I’m casting that judgment because I felt that self-righteous pride that people should meet those expectations, I realized how damaging that really was and it kept me from healing my own self and feeling love towards people the way that the Lord wanted me to feel.
President Boyd K. Packer shared in a talk in 1977 a parable, it’s a CES video now, about the ungrateful debtor. Another parable comes from Matthew chapter 18,
23 ¶ Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
I really like these stories and I saw the talk by President packer in seminary and it’s really stuck with me. I think we’re all sinners and it’s hard to think that sometimes because our pride gets in the way, but we need to be able to have that mercy and healing in our hearts for others.
Elder Echo Hawk said, “My heart will always miss Tommy and Joan, but forgiveness now allows me to remember them with unfettered joy. And I know we will be together again as a family.
I am not suggesting that we condone unlawful conduct. We know full well that individuals are to be held accountable for their criminal acts and civil wrongdoings. However, we also know that, as sons and daughters of God, we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are to be forgiving even when it seems others may not warrant our forgiveness.”
So, that forgiveness we extend to others doesn’t necessarily hinge on them giving us an apology.
Have you had an experience when you had to forgive even though there wasn’t an apology or maybe they didn’t realize they did something wrong? Did you forgive so that you wouldn’t have that burden on you?
- I was thinking of Nephi and how he said in the scriptures, ‘I frankly forgive them.’ I cannot imagine living with his brothers and them trying to kill him every other day. But he was like ‘I’m just going to forgive them and move on.’ We’re going to get hurt and be offended and if you let those emotions sink into you they will destroy you. We just have to be forgiving sometimes and that person that may have wronged you might then think ‘maybe I was in the wrong.’
- Sometimes I think we hold on to those feelings because we want to hold these people accountable and for some reason when you forgive them you think that you’re letting go of that accountability or that proof that they hurt you and you have to hold on to that as proof, ‘look at how I have been hurt.’ If you hold on to that it cankers into your soul. I can see as I am raising my daughters, some of them forgive easy and some don’t and you can see the light in them when they do and it leave when they choose not to forgive. It’s something I know that I need to work on- praying to let go. To let go of that need to be validated in my hurt. Ask Heavenly Father to give me the strength to let go.
- I know that all of you have had experiences with forgiving and being hurt and done wrong on purpose or accident. We all grow from this and can become more compassionate and we learn to have more charity for each other. This one experience that I had, I still contemplate it from time to time. One of our children was born early at 24 ½ weeks and I partly blame myself and that took longer to forgive than the specialist doctor who I confess that I was very angry with him because he told me my ultrasound was normal and it was not normal. When I visited our baby at the hospital I had to walk past this doctor’s door to get to the NICU. I didn’t want to walk anywhere near that door. That’s just where all my emotions went in his direction. I didn’t have even 1% of energy to waste on negativity because there was so much going on. I made a decision that I would pray for him. So, every time I walked past that door, which was about 4 to 6 to 8 times a day. I’d just say, ‘I bless you, I forgive you’ in my prayer for a month every day, seven days a week, ‘I bless you, I forgive you.’ Don’t think about it, don’t waste any energy on it. About a month later, ‘I bless you, I forgive you’ I realized I don’t have any negative emotion. I took time to think about it for a second and I noticed it was gone, it dissolved, the Lord took it. He rescued me. I was spared from that burden and it was just a little bit easier to put all of my attention on the baby and everything else.
What strategies do you use to forgive yourself and others?
- (Young Woman) I try to think of everybody as a human being. We’re all human beings and we all make mistakes and sometimes you just gotta remember that I’m a human being, they’re a human being and that’s it.
- I try to do another task and try not to dwell on it.
- I try to remember the song, “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus.”
- I have to do my part in working to forgive and let go. I ask for Heavenly Father’s help and it is a gift from Him, the ability to forgive.
We are all human and remembering our divine nature is important. We talked about divine nature last month and the divine nature of others. We’re all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.
Bridging that gap between our expectations of others and the reality of our situation is sometimes hard for me. I’m a first child and a first granddaughter and a first great granddaughter in my family so I felt a lot of responsibility and having to do the right thing all the time. I tried to lead by example to all these little cousins were behind me and my brothers and sisters and then I grew and so did my brothers and sisters. Some of my brothers have left the church and I have felt some anger towards them. I don’t think it is anger that is hot and mad, but it’s more like the anger masks the sadness and the heartbreak I have for them and the blessings that I know they are missing out on. Because they made that choice. One of my sweet little brothers is quite angry at the church so it’s hard to talk to him. I think that when I approach him with love in my heart and I tell him, ‘I still love you.’ Last summer he called me and let me know that he didn’t believe that our temple sealing didn’t mean anything, that families aren’t forever. I told him, ‘I still love you and I hope it’s true and I hope you can find it in your heart that it’s true. We still love you and want you to come home if you ever feel so inclined.’
Without the miracle of the Atonement our lives would be mortal and temporary and the struggles we have on earth would be irreconcilable. Addiction, death, disappointment would be insurmountable. Through Him our lives are made eternal and experiences turn into knowledge and wisdom.
In 2 Nephi 2:7 “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”
Going back to Elder Echo Hawk he said, “The teachings of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, are clear; the sinner must be willing to forgive others if he or she hopes to obtain forgiveness. Brothers and sisters, are there people in our lives who have hurt us? Do we harbor what seem like fully justified feelings of resentment and anger? Are we letting pride keep us from forgiving and letting go? I invite all of us to forgive completely and let healing occur from within. And even if forgiveness doesn’t come today, know that as we desire it and work for it, it will come—just as it eventually did for me after my brother’s death.”
The next part is really, really important. He said, “Please also remember that an essential element of forgiveness includes forgiving ourselves.”
How come it is so hard to forgive ourselves? Why is that sometimes so much harder than forgiving other people?
- I think it’s because we know our own story. When we judge somebody else, we don’t know their whole story, but you know what was going through your head. You know that you were in the wrong and it’s just hard to accept that we’re not perfect. It’s hard because we think we have no excuse.
- We know that we know better and we let someone down and it’s hard to forgive ourselves.
- I think sometimes it’s hard to forgive ourselves because we don’t view it in terms of a sin or a wrongdoing. We just think, ‘I can do better. I should do more.’ Whereas if somebody wrongs you, you can say, ‘I’m going to pray, I’m going to forgive them.’ Instead we’re just hard on ourselves and we don’t view it in the same way as forgiving somebody else. We just think ‘I need to do more.’ And then you feel disappointed in yourself. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s easier to forgive somebody else because you view it in that different box, if you will.
“The Apostle Paul counseled:
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, … bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another … : even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
The Lord Himself declared:
“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.””
As I prepared this lesson, I just kept thinking back on the lesson we had a few weeks ago about meekness and the difference between meekness and weakness. That was by Elder David A. Bednar and meekness is an essential attribute to have if you’re going to forgive someone else. I just want to go over that list really quick again.
Elder Echo Hawk goes on to say, “I witness this peace will come into our lives as we heed the teachings of Jesus Christ and follow His example by forgiving others. As we forgive, I promise the Savior will strengthen us, and His power and joy will flow into our lives.
The tomb is empty. Christ lives. I know Him. I love Him. I am grateful for His grace, which is the strengthening power that is sufficient to heal all things.”
Have any of you had an experience when you were able to replace anger with peace in their soul?
- I’m not thinking of a specific experience, but I keep thinking that forgiveness is not tangible. It’s not a thing we can give somebody. It can affect us so much. You feel heavy. You feel sick. When you have given this person forgiveness, or yourself that forgiveness, something is gone. You feel lighter.
- Science now knows that when we have negative emotions it causes chemicals to be released in our body that cause disease. Positive emotions cause chemicals to release that are healing. They actually have photographs of this happening. In a way, you can say it’s selfish to forgive. Forgiveness is the best thing for you.
- When you take into consideration all that Christ went through and what the Atonement is, and to hold onto something is causing more pain. It’s human nature to hang on to a grudge or to hang on to insecurities, but when Christ Atoned for it, He took it upon himself. He feels what we feel. When we do feel things, we know that we’re not alone, so to continue feeling that and to harbor ill feelings is continuing to hurt.
As I thought about someone who was a good example to me of forgiving- I grew up in [a small town in Utah] and across the street from me there lived a girl who was in my ward. She’s two years older than me and the summer that I turned 13, she went missing. She disappeared and they didn’t know what happened to her. At the time her father had cancer and he passed away about 8 months after she disappeared. Soon after that, they found her body and it turned out that she had been murdered. She had been abducted and killed. Our ward went through a really hard time with that. I was a Beehive and she was a MiaMaid and we had gone to girl’s camp together and she had been my buddy at camp. So, I really had an attachment to Trisha. It was a really hard thing to go through. Her mother was really good example in my life and one that I still remember. She was quiet and she held herself with a lot of dignity and strength. She was a very educated woman, she worked at the local college as a social worker. She was a counselor there. I can’t imagine losing your husband and then a few weeks later find out what had happened to your little girl. I don’t think I ever heard her verbalize that she had forgiven the person responsible for this, but her anger did not consume her. I think she was a good example of meekness and strength. It wasn’t ok what happened to her, but she didn’t let it canker her soul. I remember her testimony distinctly that she always knew that it would be ok in the end. She knew where her daughter was and that she knew she would see her again. I’m sure, she passed away several years ago, and I’m sure that she is with her now.
I challenge each of you to find something in your life that you can do to find forgiveness for someone or a situation, whether they know it or not, it doesn’t really matter. I know that we’ll be able to find peace and we’ll be able to magnify our divine nature as we do this.
Challenge for this week:
- Pray to have Heavenly Father help you to find the strength to let go of pain and hurt and allow you to forgive.
- Remember to forgive yourself of wrongdoings.
- Forgive others as Nephi did and move forward.
NEXT WEEK: CHANGE IN AGENDA– Ministering topic discussion will be next Sunday, “True ministers focus on the needs of others.” The General Conference talk, “Until Seventy Times Seven” by Elder Lynn G. Robbins (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018) will be discussed on Sunday, Aug 26th.